By Abby Wargo
The summer season is coming to an end, and for many farmers, harvest season is dawning. One farm in particular, Crow Vineyard and Winery in Kennedyville, is preparing to showcase its crops — corn, soybeans, hay, and grapes — in a unique form of agrotourism.
This weekend, Crow is holding its annual event, CrowFest, on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the farm (12441 Vansants Corner Rd.). Admission is $12 in advance and $16 at the door for guests over 21, $10 for guests under 21 or designated drivers, free for children under 5, and $25 for VIP tickets. This will be the festival’s 10th year.
The purpose of the event is, first and foremost, to educate people on modern farming and allowing them to see a working farm first-hand, as well as to raise awareness of the integration of farming and productions, according to Judy Crow, co-owner of Crow Vineyard and Winery.
“This is our way to open our farm to large numbers to come out and experience what the harvest is all about,” Judy Crow said. “We’re bringing people to get to know what farming’s all about.”
Crow is the only commercial winery in Kent County that makes its own wine, Judy Crow said. There is an on-site facility complete with bottling equipment and a winemaker on staff. The winery uses eight different types of grapes to make 13 different types of wine. The 365-acre working family farm has been operational since the early 20th century, gradually adding grass-fed Angus beef, a Farmstay bed and breakfast, and the vineyard and winery.
Although Crow holds many events throughout the year for other groups and nonprofits, CrowFest is the only time it hosts its own event. Many local vendors will also participate to sell their food products.
CrowFest will feature live music, food and wine, tours of the farm and winery, games for children, hayrides through the vineyard, alpacas, and an antique tractor and truck show. In the afternoon, a woodcarver will carve a tree stump into the shape of a wine bottle using a chainsaw.
The Kent County High School FFA manages the highly popular grape-stomping event for children, which the Crow family’s grandchildren kick off each year.
Robbie Jester, a local man turned celebrity chef who has appeared on shows such as “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Beat Bobby Flay” will do a demonstration using Crow’s own beef and cook food that pairs well with Crow’s wines.
In a rural community such as Kent County, Judy Crow said, there are not many opportunities for economic development while also maintaining the integrity of an agricultural institution. By using agrotourism, like CrowFest, the Crows can perpetuate the farm while also educating people about farming.
“Farmers don’t have time to tell their story. We’re an agricultural entity that is really working and to me, that is art, that is entertainment, that is a piece of Kent County,” Judy Crow said.